TRONDHEIM, Norway, May 24 (UPI) -- Doctors prescribe exercise to patients but Norwegian researchers say they soon may also prescribe going to the theater or taking up painting for better health.
Researchers Koenraad Cuypers, Steinar Krokstad, Turid Lingaas Holmen, Margunn Skjei Knudtsen, Lars Olov Bygren and Jostein Holmen of Norwegian University of Science and Technology analyzed participation in cultural activities and health involving more than 50,000 participants from 2006 to 2008.
The researchers say they found a surprising link between cultural activities and better physical and mental health.
The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found being involved in either receptive cultural activities, such as attending a theater performance or visiting an art show, or creative culture activities, such as painting or music that people participate in, was found to be related not only to good health, but to satisfaction with life and low levels of anxiety and depression.
Men seemed to get a greater perceived health benefit than women did but participation in creative and receptive cultural activities was associated with satisfaction with life, low anxiety and low depression in both genders.
"The results suggest that the use of cultural activities in health promotion and health care may be justified," the researchers say in a statement.